Entrepreneurial Spark is the world’s largest free accelerator for start-up and scale-up businesses. Robin shares his experience on pitching, winning and what it means to be part of the program.
1. What is Entrepreneurial Spark and how did Bearpit Bristol get involved?
Entrepreneurial Spark is a free accelerator program for start-up and growing businesses. Their vision is to inspire and enable positive social changes through entrepreneuring. Social enterprises like Bearpit Bristol do have a place in their program. The Bristol "E-spark" hub helps enable many great Bristol businesses some of which we are hearing about now and others which we will be hearing about very soon.
Bearpit Bristol applied to E-Spark in 2016. We went through a rigorous and challenging entry process. We made it through and were offered a place on the program. The good people at E-Spark said this about our social enterprise,
"We see the improvements that are happening in the Bearpit. With Bearpit Bristol we also see their clear vision, dedication and strength of team. We believe we can enable them to accelerate their success and delivery positive social change."
2. How does the pitching competition work?
Pitching is a big part of E-Spark. Everybody pitches and the standard is really high. With the pitch competition there were a number of rounds voted on by seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts. From over 50 pitchers, only 8 made it through to the finals. The finals were held in the E-Spark event space. There were lights, cameras, a tough judging panel and the biggest audience I have ever pitched in front of.
3. What's the hardest part of pitching?
The challenge with pitching for me is getting the balance right. You've got to tell a story. Our story is about what people can do when they come together. It's about team. There's so much you want to say but only 1 minute (and not a second more) to say it. The pitch fails if it doesn't provide enough information but then again the pace and delivery has to be just right or it won't resonate. After that, there's no secret, you just have to practice.
4. What did it mean for you to make the finals?
I was really proud to be in the same final line up as inspiring businesses like Crowdreach, Rovco, Truestart Coffee, Freckles Childcare, Gympanzees, Hollywood Hero Hire and Tuffscreen. Many of these businesses are accelerating at pace, winning industry recognition, national and even global awards for their entrepreneurship. Though we were all competing the group was supportive with everyone smashing their pitches. I didn't think for a second I would win.
5. What does the prize money mean for Bearpit Bristol?
The Bearpit is not easy. It takes time and a lot of hard work. There are a lot of people involved and a lot of unsung heroes. There has been struggle and dogged perseverance. The prize will help celebrate how far the Bearpit has come and will mark the start of even more good things for the future. We're using the money to put on the Bearpit's biggest community event to date. It's open for all who use the space and all the people of Bristol. It will take place this spring. We've got a date planned but it's under wraps for now!
6. What can we expect from Bearpit Bristol this year?
Big things! More food, markets, events & community activities. With the support and collaboration of those around us we will help create a safe and welcoming destination. If you want to get involved please get in touch.
Entrepreneurial Spark works in collaboration with very special mentors, entrepreneurs and professional services businesses. From lawyers to accountants, from manufacturers to investors, they all add great real-time, real-life value to our entrepreneurs. Visit their website to find out more here!